Thurrock housing service complaints on the rise

Complaints against Thurrock’s housing service have risen to more than 600 in the past year.

The council, which has struggled to contain problems with damp and mould in some of its ageing properties like the Blackshots tower blocks in Grays, has seen complaints rise to 671 in 2022/23, an 18 per cent increase on the previous year.

Of these complaints, 484 related to the response to requests for repairs and tenancy management

On average over the last three full financial years 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23, the council received 599 complaints per annum relating to various services delivered by the housing service.

A total of 62 complaints related to gas repairs and gas servicing and 44 complaints related to refurbishment of homes.

The percentage of complaints upheld in 2022/23 was 37.8 per cent, increasing from 31.5 per cent in 2021/22.

A report to the housing overview and scrutiny committee, which will meet on Tuesday, said: “One of the most important elements of complaints handling is learning lessons from failings identified as part of the process of investigating and responding to a complaint. This is key to prevent failings from re-occurring in the future.

“As part of the process for complaints handling, depending on the levels of upheld complaints as determined by the complaints team, the housing service is required to provide the complaints team with details of how the service has learned from each complaint in the form of a learning action plan.”

Complaints relating to the housing service are investigated as part of a two stage complaints process.

Stage one complaints should be investigated and responded to by the service within ten working days.

Should the complainant be dissatisfied with the response they receive, they are able to request that the complaint is escalated to stage two when a senior officer will investigate. If the response is still not satisfactory the complainant can refer the matter directly to the ombudsman.

The Ombudsman’s 2022/23 landlord performance reports are for landlords with five or more findings made in cases determined between April 1, 2022 and March 31, 2023.

During the 2022/23 financial year the Housing Ombudsman made eight determinations and made a total of 13 findings across five categories of complaints.

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter